It may sound like a daytime soap opera, but the Old and the Bold radio broadcast, featuring some of the Fernhill aged care community’s first residents, was something far more unique.
The 1947 live fundraising broadcast from a plane circling above Brisbane was quite a feat for the time and shows the community spirit that has been a constant throughout Fernhill’s history.
Four veterans – then living at Kingshome, Queensland’s first War Veterans Home at Taringa – boarded the flight to launch an appeal for the refitting of the Fernhill property, donated by Malcolm Newman.
Veterans John Patrick (93), Dan Hogan (89), Captain Charles Moore (93), and Arthur Robert ‘Bob’ Billaney (85) had collectively fought in the Boer War, WWI, Sudan campaign, Indian frontier, Africa, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Russia and Gallipoli.
On June 6th, 1947 they took to the skies to raise £30,000 to launch the fundraising campaign. Their plane was piloted by Australian National Airways Senior Route Captain Munro. RSL Chairman Mr A.C. Dibdin, then RSL State President Bob Huish and eight delegates from the RSL congress in Brisbane also took part.
Captain Moore said at the time his only other flight had been in a bi-plane over Mesopotamia in 1917.
For Bob Billaney, it was his first flight.
“I’m far happier in this plane than even Napoleon was crossing the Alps,” he said.
The ‘Old and Bold’ broadcast aired live on 4BC radio, with the plane circling the city for 50 minutes and commentary provided by from local radio presenter Tom McGregor.
During the broadcast, messages from the Governor, Sir John Lavarack and Premier Hanlon were also read in support of the Fernhill project.
Sadly, recordings from the historic flight appear to have been lost.
Bolton Clarke is hoping to connect with the families of the four veterans and is seeking support from the public to help locate the descendants or relatives of Patrick, Hogan, Moore and Billaney. Anyone with information is asked to be in touch through social media (@BoltonClarke) or via email to [email protected].